Ender 3 (Pro & V2 & Neo & S1) Not Extruding – Causes & Fixes

While it all seems so simple when it comes together, extrusion is a pretty complex operation that relies on all the distinct software and hardware components working correctly together, which causes it to have multiple points of failure where even one of the parts becoming inoperational can bring everything to a halt.

In this guide, we will discuss the factors that can prevent your Ender 3 from extruding material during the printing process and take you through the solutions that will help you resolve the issue you’re facing to get your Ender 3 back in working order.

Ender 3 (Pro & V2 & Neo & S1) Not Extruding – Causes & Fixes

As there are a lot of components that play a role in extrusion taking place, whether it’s the heating block melting the filament, the extruder motor pushing the filament down, or the firmware controlling this whole process, finding out the root cause behind this issue requires us to go through all of the possible culprits.

Firmware Issues

When you come across the issue of your Ender 3 not extruding filament, verifying that there are no issues regarding the firmware is the first step we recommend taking, whether it’s a corrupted firmware file or a wrong version that isn’t fully compatible with your Ender 3.

While this is unlikely to be the source of the issue you’re experiencing if it started happening randomly and not after an event such as either setting your Ender 3 up for the very first time or upgrading the firmware, our recommendation would be to rule this possibility out regardless by flashing the correct firmware from a reputable source.

To obtain the official firmware file that Creality ships for your particular model of Ender 3, you can visit the support section on the official Creality webpage, where you will be able to select different firmware files based on factors such as mainboard version and whether a BLTouch sensor is attached to your Ender 3.

ender 3 firmware files example

As it’s vital for you to ensure that the firmware file you’re obtaining is compatible with your Ender 3 to avoid problems, we highly recommend double-checking everything from the exact model of your 3D printer to the mainboard version (you can find this information by unscrewing the bottom cover of your Ender 3 to expose the mainboard, as it will be written directly on the mainboard next to the Creality logo), and only flashing the firmware once you’re sure.

creality v4.2.2 mainboard identifying

Even though the official firmware isn’t the best and most feature-packed one by any means, with most enthusiasts opting to use alternatives that have a more active development process behind them, flashing the official firmware for testing purposes will practically ensure that you won’t come across any issues for a simple task such as extruding filament, and allow you to rule the possibility of firmware issues out as we move forward in troubleshooting.

Hotend Not Heating Up

Our following recommendation when diagnosing the issue of an Ender 3 that isn’t extruding filament is to confirm that the hotend is heating up as intended and rule out any heating-related problems before moving forward with the more complex troubleshooting steps, especially considering that a heating-related issue is pretty straightforward to verify.

For this process, bring the hotend temperature of your Ender 3 to 200 degrees Celsius by either using the LCD controller (Control -> Temperature -> Hotend Temperature) or the M104 S200 G-code command and watch the temperature indicator on the screen to see whether the hotend is actually heating up.

ender 3 hotend temperature set example

If the screen shows that the hotend isn’t heating up, or if you suspect that there is an issue with the hotend temperature sensor (thermistor), another step you can take to find out whether the hotend is actually hot or not is to touch the nozzle with a piece of filament (preferably PLA, or increase the hotend temperature even further), and provided that the filament starts melting at the nozzle, we can practically say that the hotend is indeed heating up without issues.

In the case where there indeed are heating issues, which would practically make it impossible for your Ender 3 to extrude filament even if everything else is working as intended, the first order of business, as you may predict, is resolving this problem to restore the heating capabilities of the hotend, and see whether the extrusion issue continues afterward.

For this process, our primary recommendation would be to ensure that the heater cartridge wires are connected correctly to the mainboard without any looseness or wiggle that could lead to the connection becoming compromised by disconnecting and re-connecting them carefully, as such disconnection can easily prevent the heater cartridge from operating as intended and cause the hotend not to heat up.

If that doesn’t fix things, our following recommendation is to thoroughly inspect the heater cartridge wire and the heater cartridge itself from the start to the end to see if there are any visual defects that stand out, whether it’s burn spots or severe bends that can lead to the wires inside the cable becoming damaged, as this would practically tell you that there’s something wrong with the heater cartridge.

In the case where the heater cartridge still doesn’t seem to be heating up with no visible defects on the wires, our following recommendation would be to replace the heater cartridge with a new one to be on the safe side, especially considering that the heater cartridge is not an expensive or hard-to-replace component by any means, as this will allow you to rule out any problems regarding this component for the rest of the troubleshooting process.

Finally, in the unlikely scenario where swapping the heater cartridge with a new one doesn’t solve the problem either, we can safely say that the issue either resides within the power supply or the mainboard, with no other options than to either replace these components one by one to find out which one has been causing the problem in your case or send your Ender 3 in for a repair.

While the more advanced users may be able to go down the route of testing the power supply voltage with a multimeter to find out whether the power supply is in good shape or not, which would point them toward the problematic component without having to replace both, the fact that this may not be an option for everyone makes replacing the components or sending your 3D printer in for a repair the go-to solution in most cases.

Blocked / Clogged Nozzle

A clogged nozzle is perhaps the most common problem that can prevent your Ender 3 from extruding filament as it should, as there are many distinct factors that can lead to the nozzle eventually becoming fully clogged and leaving no room for the filament to pass anymore.

To find out whether you have a clogged nozzle at hand, the first step you will need to take is to heat the hotend up to the target temperature for the filament that’s attached to your Ender 3 at the moment through either the LCD controller or the M104 G-code command and wait until the hotend is fully heated up.

setting hotend temperature with m104

Once the hotend is heated up, clamp the extruder lever to make it possible to control the filament manually, and try to push the filament slowly into the PTFE tube, which, under normal circumstances, shouldn’t require a lot of force and move forward smoothly as you’re pushing it in.

[addimgae filename=”ender-3-extruder-lever”]

In the case where it becomes impossible to move the filament through at all, or nothing comes out of the nozzle even when you have managed to push some filament in, we can say that the nozzle of your Ender 3 is indeed clogged, as it should be possible to get the filament through the nozzle manually without issues provided that the hotend is at the correct temperature for the filament to melt.

To unclog the nozzle of your Ender 3, the first step we recommend taking is to heat the hotend up to 240 degrees Celsius by either using the LCD controller or the M104 S240 G-code command and wait until heating is complete, which will melt the filament that’s stuck inside as much as possible and make it easier for us to remove the clogging.

Next, grab the needle that ships with your Ender 3 for this exact purpose of unclogging the nozzle, place it inside the nozzle, keep pushing and pulling the needle to break down any clumps that may be obstructing the path of the filament, pull the needle out to clean any residue that may gather on it, and repeat this process a few times until the needle comes out clean.

If this doesn’t resolve the clogging issue, the next step we recommend taking to unclog your nozzle is to utilize the cold pull method, which we can quickly summarize as a technique that makes it possible to clean the hotend and the nozzle by filling the nozzle completely with filament for the purposes of getting it to gather all the residue inside and then pulling the filament out together with all the residue it has collected.

In the case where the cold pull method doesn’t get the job done either, our following and final recommendation is to remove the nozzle from the hotend and to either clean it by soaking it in isopropyl alcohol and thoroughly brushing it with a wire brush to get rid of all the residue, or to replace it with a new and clean one, which will practically guarantee that a clogged nozzle won’t be a problem for your Ender 3 anymore.

Additionally, while the nozzle is removed, we highly recommend cleaning the entirety of the filament path by pushing and pulling the filament through the hotend until it comes out a few times, as it will be much easier to do this without the nozzle attached due to the hole on the hotend getting larger; with the piece of filament grabbing all the residue on its way in and out.

Inoperational Extruder Stepper Motor

Provided that the hotend of your Ender 3 is operating as intended and pushing the filament through the nozzle manually isn’t a problem, an extruder stepper motor that isn’t functioning is the following possibility we need to evaluate since an issue related to the extruder stepper motor would effectively prevent your Ender 3 from being able to move the filament out of the nozzle.

To find out if the extruder stepper motor of your Ender 3 is working as intended, start by pulling the filament out of the extruder, which will effectively create a scenario where the extruder gear is unobstructed, and its rotation cannot be affected by any external factors, providing us with a healthy test environment where we can see the behavior of the extruder gear alone.

ender 3 extruder gear

Next, home the axes (G28) and set the hotend temperature to 200 degrees Celsius, which, even though we won’t be extruding any filament with no filament even attached to the 3D printer, is a necessary step in Marlin firmware to be able to use the extrusion commands that get the stepper motor to move without facing error (cold extrusion prevented) messages.

ender 3 hotend temperature set example

Afterward, get the extruder motor to rotate by either extruding some filament through either the LCD controller (a higher value is better as it will cause the motor to spin longer and give you more time to observe the situation) or running the G1 E100 G-code command from a G-code terminal.

ender 3 extrude filament example

Right after you send the extrusion command to your Ender 3, observe the extruder gear, which, under normal circumstances, should be rotating counter-clockwise to move the filament toward the direction of the PTFE tube and hence the nozzle.

If the extruder gear is not turning as your Ender 3 is running the extrusion command, this would effectively mean that there is an issue that stops the extruder stepper motor from operating as intended, which would explain why your Ender 3 is unable to extrude filament.

In this case, our first recommendation would be to disconnect the wire that connects the mainboard to the extruder motor on both ends and to examine it carefully for any signs of damage, whether it’s a sharp bend that can lead to the wires breaking, or a black spot that suggests a burn.

ender 3 extruder motor wire

Next, double-check the mainboard diagram to find the correct slot for the extruder motor wire on the mainboard (labeled E on most Creality mainboards), connect the wire, and ensure that the connectors sit tightly on both ends without any wiggle that could potentially lead to a compromised connection where the mainboard is unable to communicate with the extruder motor.

ender 3 mainboard extruder stepper slot

If re-doing the wiring doesn’t solve the problem at hand, our following recommendation would be to connect the extruder stepper motor to another slot on the mainboard, such as the Z-axis driver, preferably with the wire that belongs to that axis to rule out any wire-related problems as well, move the Z-axis with the LCD controller or G-code, and once again, see whether the extruder gear spins with this setup.

In the likely scenario where the extruder gear still doesn’t spin, we can practically guarantee that the problem cannot be stemming from the wire or the mainboard, as we used the stepper driver and wire from an axis that works without issues, with the only difference being the stepper motor itself, which effectively means that you will need to replace the stepper motor to fix the extrusion problem you’re experiencing.

On the other hand, in a scenario where the extruder gear ends up spinning with this setup, our recommendation would be to run more tests by mixing and matching the two separate wires, stepper motors, and stepper drivers (such as connecting the extruder motor to the Z-axis driver with the original wire first to see if it still works, and if it does, connecting the Z-axis motor to the E-axis driver to confirm that the problem indeed resides with the E-axis driver), which should practically lead you to the component (the wire or the mainboard) that requires replacing.

Misconfigured Extruder Tension

Next on our list of things that can prevent your Ender 3 from extruding filament is the extruder tension, which determines how tightly the extruder gear grips the filament, being misconfigured, as such a misconfiguration can lead to a scenario where the extruder becomes unable to move the filament even with the motor working without any issues.

To find out whether a problem related to the extruder tension is preventing extrusion in your case, start by pulling the filament back to a point where you can see that it’s barely entering the PTFE tube, where it becomes pretty straightforward to observe whether it will move within the tube or not.

filament in ender 3 ptfe tube

Next, home the axes (G28), set the hotend temperature to 200 degrees Celsius, extrude some filament through the LCD controller or the G1 E5 G-code command and observe whether the filament has moved within the tube.

In the case where extruder tension is way too loose, you’ll find that the filament doesn’t move within the tube at all, even though the extruder motor is rotating, as the extruder gear won’t be able to get a grip on the filament to perform the necessary movement, with the extruder gear effectively spinning on its own.

Similarly, if the extruder gear is gripping the filament way too tightly, you’ll notice that the filament in the tube doesn’t move due to it effectively getting stuck in the extruder, with signs such as filament grinding (where the extruder grinds the filament down, with filament shavings appearing around the extruder gear) also appearing as a result.

To solve this problem, the first step we recommend is to loosen the extruder tension all the way down as a starting point with the hex key that comes with your Ender 3 since this will make it easier to perform the necessary adjustments.

ender 3 extruder tensioner screw

Next, tighten the extruder tension slightly, try to extrude filament again, and keep repeating this process until the filament starts moving the appropriate distance within the tube, which will effectively give you the optimal extruder tension where it’s as loose as possible with the filament moving correctly.

As it’s best to keep the extruder tension as loose as possible without hindering the filament movement since increasing the tension will put more pressure on the filament and possibly lead to the filament grinding problem, making minor adjustments and testing after each adjustment is the key to success here.

Clogged PTFE Tube (Bowden Extruder Only)

For an Ender 3 with a Bowden extruder (the default for all the standard Ender 3 models except for S1 and the newer SE & KE), another factor that can lead to the 3D printer not extruding as intended is the PTFE tube (the component that transfers the filament from the extruder to the hotend) becoming clogged, as this will prevent the filament from moving forward and reaching the nozzle.

ender 3 ptfe tube example

The most reliable way to find out whether this is what’s causing the problem in your case is to detach the PTFE tube, and even though this will require you to do some disassembly, it’s a step we recommend taking if you haven’t been able to resolve the extrusion problem you’ve been facing with the rest of the solutions we have discussed so far.

In the case where the PTFE tube is indeed clogged, usually due to a brittle piece of filament, you should be able to push it out of the tube with either another piece of filament that’s long enough or any other solid, long object that you can fit into the PTFE tube, such as a screwdriver.


While coming across a scenario where your Ender 3 isn’t extruding any filament at all isn’t a pleasant sight, especially considering that there won’t be any way to use your 3D printer until you resolve this issue, it’s usually not an unsolvable problem that will require you to replace your Ender 3 with a new one altogether.

That being said, with many parts working together to make extrusion happen, the long list of possible causes, where hardware-related issues aren’t out of the question either, can make this problem challenging to solve, especially if you aren’t too familiar with the hardware side of things.